Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cork whiskey firm scores €1.5m investment

Whiskey backers Michael O’Rourke and Leonard Ryan (left and right), with Mark O’Meara (centre)
Whiskey backers Michael O’Rourke and Leonard Ryan (left and right), with Mark O’Meara (centre)
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

West Cork Whiskey Distillers, a company whose sister firm is backed by Setanta Sports co-founders Leonard Ryan and Michael O'Rourke as well as their business partner Mark O'Meara, has secured a €1.5m investment as it expands its business.

The distiller is directly connected to West Cork Distillers, a Skibbereen-based firm which has secured previous investment from the three businessmen.

The whiskey firm was co-founded by John O'Connell, Dennis McCarthy, and Ger McCarthy. Its brands include whiskeys Drombeg and West Cork, as well as Two Trees gin, vodka and poitin.

Mr O'Connell did not respond to enquires yesterday.

The investment in West Cork Whiskey Distillers is understood to have been made by private clients of Merrion Capital.

Merrion's head of wealth management, Shane Nolan, has also joined West Cork Whiskey Distillers as a director.

Mr Nolan led a management team that bought Merrion back from Iceland's Landsbanki for €30m. Bermudan financial services firm Somers owns 22pc of Merrion. Mr Ryan, Mr O'Meara and Mr O'Rourke also own an investment company called Danu Partners, which recently merged its Capital Bars business in Dublin with the Mercantile Group. A unit of Danu Partners previously invested in West Cork Distillers, while the Setanta Sports business was recently acquired by telco Eir, formely Eircom.

Earlier this year, Danu Partners announced that it had bought seven of the eight Smith & Wollensky steak houses in the United States, as well as the brand. It plans to invest heavily in the business to expand in the US and elsewhere.

That expansion, coupled with Danu's participation in the Dublin pub scene, provides a useful path to market for the Cork distillery.

Earlier this year, West Cork Distillery launched its 'Pogues' brand in the United States.

It's marketed as the "official Irish whiskey" of the band. Pogues singer Shane MacGowan and other band members own 50pc of the whiskey brand.

West Cork Distillers sold its 50pc stake in the Pogues whiskey to UK firm Halewood International in March. It acquired distribution rights for the UK.

West Cork Distillers continues to hold global distribution rights.

Irish Independent

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